Actor Shahrukh Khan’s public persona and life, beyond his Bollywood successes, will be the focus of his interaction with students and faculty of Yale University when he visits the prestigious US institution later this week on a fellowship.
Khan will visit Yale on April 12 as a Chubb fellow, considered among Yale’s highest honours. His day will include interactions with students, faculty and a public lecture at the university.
The Chubb fellowship so far has been bestowed on heads of states, Nobel prize winners and public leaders from every walk of life.
George Joseph, assistant secretary of international affairs at Yale, said Khan’s day at the Connecticut-based Ivy league university would not be focussed solely around his Bollywood career but will give students a chance to discuss with him the challenges that shaped his career path and his contributions to social causes.
The interaction with Khan is “not going to be focused around his Bollywood career but on the issues he has taken up over the years in his public life as well as in in his movies. This is a chance for students to get a sense of him as an individual and understand the kinds of passion he has, including the work he has done in the fields of education, health and environment,” Joseph said.
He said since Chubb fellows are distinguished persons from every walk of life, a key aspect of the fellowship is interaction with students. Chubb fellows are role models for Yale students who have contributed significantly through their work to the public life.
“Khan represents a model of public life. Through his films and philanthropy, the Chubb fellowship noted that Khan has been among his generation’s most important examples of the power of art to promote higher human ideals and inspirations,” the university said.
It is not just Khan’s Bollywood success that is an attraction for Yale’s students. He has engaged in philanthropy in different ways and used his public role to advance common good, Joseph added. With a strong population of Indian students, Yale has been focussing on strengthening its involvement with India over the past few years. Indians constitute the second largest number of international students at Yale after China.
“There is a growing interest in everything South Asia at Yale,” Joseph said. In this context, Yale students had been keen on inviting Khan to the university.
As a public figure in India, Khan is an inspiration to millions in the country and as Yale students prepare themselves for their respective calling in public life, they can learn a lot from the way Khan has shaped his career, Joseph said.
Khan’s visit this week is the culmination of efforts that started in 2008-09, when students first discussed the idea to invite him to the university.
The visit will be one of the rare occasions when Khan will address a forum for students outside India and the excitement at the university is unprecedented.
Seats for a 2000-capacity theatre, where Khan will deliver his 90-minute lecture, were booked within two days of the announcement. Joseph said the university has been receiving inquires about the visit from people across the US.
“It is not just the south Asians who are eagerly waiting for Khan’s visit. Khan is a global phenomenon and everyone at Yale is eager to listen to one of the world’s most popular movie stars,” he said.